Whoa boy am I getting a lot of queries these days.
In addition to the 400 or so I received over the holidays, I came in this morning to another 100+ that had accumulated over the weekend. To put that in perspective, last year I received about 110 over a three day weekend, and that had been a record.
I’m not totally sure why this all is happening, but I’m guessing it’s a combo of:
– NaNoWriMo novels have been edited and are ready for submission
– Contests tend to bring new blog readers and new blog readers tend to bring queries
– People had some time over the holidays to prep their submissions
– Cylon virus weakening human race by compelling people to spend time writing novels instead of fighting robot uprising
And yet, despite my best guesses there are also some slightly unexplainable aspects to this new deluge. For instance, I’m receiving an abnormally high volume of personal religious manifestos. Why? I have no idea. Certain trends just come in waves.
I also really do believe we’re in a cultural moment where an abnormally high percentage of the population is either writing or thinking about writing a novel.
I’m not complaining about all of this – after all, many of these new projects are quite good! It’s just making for a tricky couple of post-holiday weeks.
Any personal theories about the query deluge?
How many of the Q's are not obvious misguided/rushed attempts, or works that are for one reason or another not ready for the marketplace?
Taking the case of NanoriMo, to write soe kind of draft in November and be submitting it now is ridiculous. That's not enough time unless you've published before. So I guess that most of your queries are subpar monstrosities not fit for human consumption.
Agree that the query stats frequently given out by agents are misleading because at least 90%, if not 99.9% are not commercially competitive.
Most queries fail on BOTH of the folowing 2 levels:
1) the book itself is not viable
2) the business approach is flawed in a showstopping way (i.e. the query their romance to an agent who only handles children's books, or the book is not actually completed or they shoot a generic form letter to all agents or besides querying agents they also queired every publisher simultaneously, et., etc., etc.
The query stats thing is old and boring, because most people don't know what they're doing and it's painfully obvious. If they did, they woldn't need an agent, right? they'd already have one!
Vanessa Wieland says
The cylons are writing about God.
This blog is AWESOME!
Unless you want to acquire a stalker (me), I would recommend refraining from mentioning Cylons. Because I am a dork. There, I said it.
Hey, Nathan. I've been searching your website, but I can't find an answer to this trivial question: is it necessary to include your address at the bottom of an email query?
I include my email and phone number, but I'm worried that if I write out the whole address it'll ruin the transition between the letter and sample pages.
Nathan Bransford says
Probably not necessary these days.
Can people really edit a novel in one month to the point where it's ready for submission?
Kristin Laughtin says
Always blame the Cylons. They're tricksy like that.
I would really blame New Year's resolutions, NaNoWriMo, and possibly the economy/unemployment for the query upsurge. As for the religious manifestos…maybe people were inspired to finish those up over the holidays? (Hopefully they didn't start them in December as well…)
Or maybe you're just popular.
Moira Young says
I think it's just plain everything: the economy, a surge in the attitude that anyone can write (and be published and make millions); a selfish teen and 20-something generation with an attitude of entitlement (which, being 27, is something I've worked so hard against); the holidays and resolutions driving people to submit; NaNoWriMo, which often helps jumpstart the writing process; the ridiculous fear of 2012 (which isn't about the end of the world, just the end of a cycle and a paradigm shift in one way or another, but people seem to prefer the doomsday prediction); Hollywood and network TV's misinformation about how fast and easy it is to get published; the collective unconscious of the human race driving more people to write (Twitter and its trends is an excellent computer model of this); technology in general making voices easier to be heard; and your popularity, friendliness, and accessability.
Oh, and the Cylons, of course.
I wonder how many agents or publishing houses in the last big recession (1982) noticed a surge in submissions back then.
I didn't submit, but I may in the next few months. To everyone who was rejected, I've found it very motivational to ask myself why I was rejected. Does the query need improvement? The manuscript? Is there a lesson here I need to learn? Or is it ready, and the agent I submitted to just wasn't the right agent for the project?
Well, it works for me. Though I also usually need a few days of rejection recovery time, first. 🙂
Um . . . I think it might have something to do with you and your blog's popularity. 😉
Nuria Coe says
On January 2nd the answer was already posted for all to see: Please see below the link to the exact answer to your deluge dilemma, courtesy of Anne Mini, author/blogger/guru of all things editorial:
Happy reading! 🙂
Because you're awesome and everyone wants to work with you. (Heck, the last writer's conference I went to, I heard another agent talk about you and your blog. I think you've built up the reputation of being a rockstar.)
Cam Snow says
My guess would be that it's your website's fault. If you want to cut down on the number of queries you should (1) demand they be by snail mail; (2) demand they send you query, synopsis, and outline so it seems like too much work; and (3) stop being so friendly soundng on the blog.
However, I think more people are writing now for several reasons: Unemployed/bad economy, baby boomers nearing retirement, technology making it easier, etc.
One thing that I hadn't thought about before is that there is a perceived drop in the quality of writing (you hear so many critics talking about how generic/formulaic some bestsellers are), so maybe more people think that they can write the next best seller.
because you are very smart and pretty…like the popular cheerleader in high school…but with a soul.
Cheryl Gower says
That's a No Brainer, Nathan. It's YOU! You have made yourself so approachable, down-to-earth through your blog that writers feel comfortable and secure in submitting their query to you. You'll be gentle; you'll be understanding; but at the same time honest and caring. See, NO-BRAINER!
Economy and an awesome site.
Chris C. says
So many journalists with a novel half done have been laid off.
Emma Michaels says
To be perfectly honest I kind of think that part of the reason there are so many people sending out their manuscripts now is because of all of the terrible things that have been happening lately. The more you see terrible things on the news the more you feel like you may never have another chance to follow your dreams. So the people who have secreted away their novels and tried to hide their love for writing are starting to realize that it is better to have tried and fail than to have never tried at all. Add in the prophecy of 2012 (or more that it is when the Mayan calendar ends)and that now many people have time to follow their dreams. So yeay for Nathan! More great novels to hopefully make up for the not as wonderful ones you probably have to see!!!
Broadway Mouth Blog says
I read this entry when you originally posted it, and I was concerned about my queries getting lost in the deluge. Then I opened up my email on Monday and found two manuscript requests. There's hope!
Meghan Ward says
I think your theory about blog traffic is correct. The upside? Maybe soon every one who has ever written a book will have queried you and then the queries will stop. And then, after taking a vacation, you will have to encourage people to write more books.
Most everyone I know is writing a book. The thing that gets me is that half of these people never read books.
Torie underlines says
Resolutions? Every January the gym is flooded with people FINALLY COMMITTING (at least until Feb.) to get in shape. Maybe aspiring authors are doing the same with their query letters?
Why? Fewer people (as a percentage of the population) are reading, while an even number of people (as a percentage of the population) are writing – actually, it may not be staying even but growing: a spoiled and pampered half-decade may have convinced more wanna-bes that that they should become artistes, rather than pursue the careers of their parents; in addition to this, the frustrated writers with the unpublished books of the past few years are trying their luck and submitting again; finally, all of the people who have been laid off over the years are finishing off the novels that they always thought they would/could/should write (some of them may be out-of-work investment bankers/vampire squids). The devil finds work for idle hands… if that's how the old saying goes.